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grew old. He always retained that ardency of affection common to the young. As a Christian, his piety was deep, all pervading, and remarkably uniform. His most intimate associates never saw him when he seemed to have the least shadow of a cloud upon his mind. He was always happy, always cheerful, and ever had a word of cheer and of encouragement for all with whom he met. Thus lived and died the first Methodist preacher of New England. And may those who come after him follow him as he followed Christ.”
Finally, the eloquent eulogy which Dr. Johnson pronounces upon his friend, the Rev. Z. Mudge, prebendary of Exeter, and vicar of St. Andrews, Plymouth, Eng., who died in 1769, is so perfectly applicable to his later namesake, the subject of this sketch, that I cannot forbear to transcribe a portion of it, the justice of which I am sure will surprise those who were personally acquainted with him :
“He was a man equally eminent for his virtues and his abilities, and at once beloved as a companion, and venerated as a pastor. He had that general curiosity to which no kind of knowledge is indifferent or superfluous, and that general benevolence by which no order of men is despised or hated. His principles, both of thought and of action, were great and comprehensive. By : solicitous examination of objections, and judicious comparison of opposite arguments, he attained what inquiry never gives but to industry and perspicuity—a firm and unshaken settlement of conviction.
“But his firmness was without asperity; for, knowing with how much difficulty truth is sometimes found, he did not wonder that many missed it. The general course of his life was determined by his profession. His discharge of parochial duties was exemplary. How his sermons were composed, may be learned from the excellent volume which he has given to the public; but how they were delivered can be known only to those who heard them; for as he appeared in the pulpit words will not easily describe him. His delivery, though unconstrained, was not negligent, and though forcible, was not turbulent. Disdaining anxious nicety of empbasis, and labored artifices of action, it captivated the hearer by its natural dignity ; it roused and fixed the volatile, and detained the mind upon the subject without directing it to the speaker.
“ The grandeur and solemnity of the preacher did not intrude upon his more general behavior; at the table of his friends he was a companion communicative and attentive; of unaffected manners, of manly cheerfulness, willing to please, and easy to be pleased. His acquaintance was universally solicited, and his presence obstructed no enjoyment which religion did not forbid. Though studious, he was popular; though inflexible, he was candid; and though metaphysical, he was orthodox.”
when he was hariot of Isras a more fitting mb
Mr. Mudge's funeral sermon was preached by his old friend and fellow-laborer, the Rev. E. T. Taylor, pastor of the Mariner's Bethel Church in Boston, from the words of Elisha to his master when he was translated, 2 Kings ii, 12: “My father, my father! the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” A more fitting preacher and a more fitting text could not be found. He was first deposited in the family tomb in the old burying ground opposite the South-street Methodist Church, where sleep the fathers and many of the most distinguished inhabitants of that ancient town; but two years after, his remains were removed to the new and beautiful cemetery which stands upon one of the wooded hills in the rear of the city, where a marble monument, erected by his family, now marks the last resting-place of this distinguished son of New England Methodism.
ART. VI.—SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON'S PHILOSOPHY.
Discussions on Philosophy and Literature, Education and Uni
versity Reform. Chiefly from the Edinburgh Review. Corrected, vindicated, enlarged, in Notes and Appendices. By Sir WilLIAM HAMILTON, Bart. With an Introductory Essay by ROBERT
TURNBULL, D. D. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1858. Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, Bart. Arranged and Edited by O. W. Wight, for the use of Schools and Colleges.
New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1853. Lectures on Metaphysics. By Sir WILLIAM HAMILTON, Bart.
Edited by the Rev. HENRY L. MANSEL, B. D., Oxford, and JOHN VEITCH, M. A., Edinburgh. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. 1859.
THE problem of the nature and limitations of human knowledge is one that has occupied the minds of the profoundest thinkers from the days of Thales of Miletus to the present hour; and even yet it is the central point of controversy among metaphysicians, who seem to be scarcely more accordant now than they were in the days of Plato and Aristotle. But it were unjust to ignore the facts, that many grand and fruitful discoveries have meantime been made, and that the field of
controversy has been narrowed down to the one central problem : “Is man capable of taking cognizance of the Unconditioned, that is, of the Absolute and Infinite; or, is human knowledge limited to the Conditioned, that is, the Finite?” Our author distinguishes at the present day four prominent theories, which he classifies as follows:
1. The unconditioned is incognizable and inconceivable; its notion being only negative of the conditioned, which last can alone be positively known or conceived. 2. It is not an object of knowledge, but its notion, as a regulative principle of the mind itself, is more than a mere negation of the conditioned. 3. It is cognizable but not conceivable; it can be known by a sinking back into identity with the absolute, but is incomprehensible by consciousness and reflection, which are only of the relative and the different. 4. It is cognizable and conceivable by consciousness and reflection, under relation, difference, and plurality. The first of these opinions we [Hamilton] regard as true; the second is held by Kant, the third by Schelling, and the last by M. Victor Cousin.
His own theory, which is commonly called the Philosophy of the Conditioned, is perhaps fairly presented in the following extract from Wight's Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, p. 454:
In our opinion the mind can conceive, and consequently can know, only the limited and the conditionally limited. The unconditionally unlimited, or the infinite, the unconditionally limited or the absolute, cannot positively be construed to the mind; they can be conceived only by a thinking away from, or abstraction of, those very conditions under which thought itself is realized, consequently the notion of the unconditioned is only negative, negative of the conceivable itself. For example, on the one hand we can positively conceive neither an absolute whole, that is, a whole 80 great that we cannot also conceive it as a relative part of a still greater whole, nor an absolute part; that is, a part so small that we cannot also conceive it, as a relative whole, divisible into smaller parts. On the other hand, we cannot positively represent, or realize, or construe to the mind (as here understanding and imagination coincide) an infinite whole, for this could only be done by the infinite synthesis in thought of finite wholes, which would itself require an infinite time for its accomplishment; nor, for the same reason, can we follow out in thought an infinite divisibility of parts. The result is the same, whether we apply the process to limitation in space, in time, or in degree. The unconditional negation, and the unconditional affirmation of limitation, in other words, the infinite and the absolute, properly so called, are thus equally inconceivable to us. As the conditionally limited (which we may briefly call the conditioned) is thus the only possible object of knowledge and of positive thought, thought necessarily supposes conditions. To think is to condition ; and conditional limitation is the fundamental law of the possibility of thought. ... The conditioned is the mean between two extremes
-two inconditionates, exclusive of each other, neither of which can be conceived as possible, but of which, on the principles of contradiction and excluded middle, one must be admitted as neces. sary. On this opinion, therefore, reason is shown to be weak, but not deceitful. The mind is not represented as conceiving two propositions subversive of each other as equally possible, but only as unable to understand as possible either of two extremes; one of which, however, on the ground of their mutual repugnance, it is compelled to recognize as true. We are thus taught the salutary lesson that the capacity of thought is not to be constituted into the measure of existence, and are warned from recognizing the domain of our knowledge as necessarily coextensive with the horizon of our faith. And by a wonderful revelation we are thus, in our very consciousness of our inability to conceive aught above the relative and finite, inspired with a belief in the existence of something unconditioned beyond the sphere of all comprehensible reality.
It is difficult to define accurately in words, and still more difficult to conceive, what Hamilton intends by the phrase “unconditionally limited;" the very terms, as we shall see in the sequel, are incongruous ; the limited and the unlimited are clearly contradictories ; so also are the conditioned and the unconditioned; but any attempt to combine the two sets of contradictions together so as to form a compound pair is, we must think, utterly inadmissible. But for the moment our object is not to refute but to explain his theory; we therefore pass to present a second quotation bearing upon the same point, excerpted from his Lectures, page 530:
The sum therefore of what I have now stated is, that the conditioned is that which is alone conceivable or cogitable; the unconditioned, that which is inconceivable or incogitable. The conditioned, or the thinkable lies between two extremes or poles, and these extremes or poles are each of them unconditioned, each of them inconceivable, each of them exclusive or contradictory of the other. Of these two repugnant opposites, the one is that of unconditional or absolute limitation; the other that of unconditional or infinite illimitation. The one we may, therefore, in general, call the absolutely unconditioned; the other, the infinitely unconditioned, or more simply, the absolute and infinite; the term absolute expressing that which is finished or complete, the term infinite that which cannot be terminated or concluded.
Based upon this logically we have a new, but necessary theory of causation, which may be summed up briefly as follows: The law of principle or causation is nothing more than a mere mental impotence, resulting from the nature and limitations of human knowledge. It is in fact only a special form of our inability to conceive an absolute commencement of being, whence results the conviction (of course purely subjective) that if anything now exists, it could not have come into being but as a modification, result, or effect of some pre-existing entity or cause. As thus enunciated it is obviously not an intuitive or a priori truth, challenging for itself a necessary objective validity, but a mere subjective necessity of thought, having no correlation with, or application to, the sphere of the real. It is moreover an obvious corollary from, and an integrant element of, Hamilton's system, and is so important in its relations and bearings that it cannot be overlooked in any exhaustive analysis of it; while its intrinsic interest merits for it a separate examination rather than such an incidental notice as our narrow limits will permit.
Waving all notice of the almost exclusively logical character of Sir William Hamilton's system of philosophy, from which, perhaps, its radical errors have mainly resulted, we pass at once to a consideration of those errors. The first that demands notice is his peculiar definition of the absolute and infinite, in virtue of which he declares them to be the opposite poles of a true logical contradiction. In this, as he frankly admits, he is at issue with nearly every distinguished metaphysician of either ancient or modern times, they having with almost entire unanimity identified the two notions in question. There is moreover this very remarkable difference between him and them; namely, they at least professed to have some positive knowledge, however imperfect, of the two notions which they adjudged to be identical; but he, on the contrary, distinctly affirms that he not only has no knowledge, but that he has and can have no conception of either; saying, Lectures, p. 530, “Of the absolute and infinite we have no conception at all.” How then is it possible for him to justify his bold, nay, paradoxical assertion that these two inconceivable entities or rather nonentities, are logical contradictions mutually exclusive of each other? How does, or can, he know that the two names,